Have you tuned in to the new series “Smash”? It’s the NBC show that follows the writers, producers, director, and talent behind an upcoming (if they can make it that far) Marilyn Monroe Broadway show. There are certainly some intriguing aspects to the show, namely Katherine McPhee (of American Idol fame), Jack Davenport, the female writer/creator of the show (yay women in TV!), and well, another musical series.
Naturally, it’s being compared to Glee. Personally, I think it’s a more adult version of it (not in the sense of themes—because God knows Glee deals with a lot of heavy topics—but in terms of language). The audience, for one, is for a more mature crowd (again, not in the sense of theme), due mostly to its writing. It has its boring moments, and the pacing picks up only in certain episodes, but overall, it’s quite interesting to see the development of a project come to life—from inception to what we all hope will be its Broadway opening and its aftermath.
But then where does the show go from there? I can’t possibly see this as a 7-season type of show. Its season 1 arc definitely has potential, but seasons 2 or 3? I don’t think the characters are as interesting, or rather, “deep” and complex enough to us as the writers think they are. Naturally, we can relate to some of the characters. Among other things, the different stages of relationships are easy for everyone to identify with. Tom is dating, Karen is in a serious relationship, Derek and Ivy are sleeping together, and Julia is a married woman (who had an affair). Others can relate to the show’s musicality, and others to the actors themselves (Davenport, anyone?).
Smash’s storyline, though simple, is quite interesting. Karen’s struggle is to make her dreams come true (Oh, what us recent college grads are yearning for at this very moment!). She doesn’t get the main part of Marilyn during the workshop, but she continues to fight for it in the upcoming episodes—or so the previews make it seem. But what happens after the Broadway show? Are viewers going to want to stay tuned for what happens to Karen afterwards? Are they even going to watch it through the show’s development?
If they want to stretch it out long enough, I think they have to follow the British mode of a 13-episode arc. (Check out Chris’s post on why this type of series development for TV works better.) Otherwise, it will undoubtedly run its course as early as its first season. But they can’t stretch it out so that we grow tired of it, either. The show is only on its 5th episode (premiering March 12), and the writing of the Marilyn musical hasn’t even been completely drafted. They are only beginning the workshops. At this rate, the musical won’t happen until the end of season 2, and I presume the audience just won’t care by then. Hopefully, the show will continue its success. It’s inspiring to see Katherine McPhee, who is relentless in giving up her dream. She lost American Idol years ago, but look at her now…following her dream. It’s an inspiration to see her grow, and all I can hope is that it translates to success for the show. But, of course, it all starts and ends in the writing.
So, what’s it going to be, Theresa Rebeck and crew?
P.S. I hope more people watch “Smash” than they do Smash and Bang “Smang It.” Have you checked out this ridiculous video online? And for the love of God, why is it so catchy?